By Jackson Revere
Carlton Hardy, 52, of Richmond has pleaded guilty to five counts of animal fighting and seven counts of animal cruelty. This plea follows a prosecution by Attorney General Mark R. Herring’s first in the nation Animal Law Unit and the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley B. Cavedo presided over the hearing. Hardy will be sentenced on May 10, 2019.
According to evidence presented in court, Hardy participated in a dogfighting operation in south Richmond. Investigators found dogfighting paraphernalia, scarred dogs, wound dressings, and others items associated with dogfighting on his property. Forensic examination of Hardy’s phone found text messages, photos and videos related to dog fighting. Authorities seized 12 dogs from Hardy’s property. The dogs were living in deplorable conditions and had injuries due to neglect.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant Attorney General Michelle Welch from Attorney General Herring’s first in the nation Animal Law Unit and Robert Bauer, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, with assistance from the office of the Richmond’s Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike Herring, Richmond Animal Care and Control, the Virginia Animal Fighting Taskforce and the Fredericksburg SPCA.
In 2015, Attorney General Herring created the nation’s first OAG Animal Law Unit to serve as a training and prosecution resource for state agencies, investigators, and Commonwealth’s Attorneys around the state dealing with matters involving animal fighting, cruelty, and welfare. Illegal animal fighting is closely tied to illegal gambling, drug and alcohol crimes, and violence against animals has been shown to be linked to violence towards other people. To date the unit has handled more than 936 matters, to include trainings, prosecutions, and consultations.
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